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Modern Opera 1900–NOW

Developments in Opera

Opera becomes a world-wide art form with great operas emerging from a variety of countries.

Many modern operas concern the anxiety and alienation of twentieth-century life.

Modern opera explores contemporary themes using techniques drawn from twentieth-century musical, visual, and narrative art forms.

The Masterworks

Wozzeck by Alban Berg:
A simple soldier is chewed up and destroyed by the oppressiveness of "the system." Berg's masterpiece uses a raw musical language to supreme emotional and theatrical effect.

Jenufa by Leos Janácek:
A stepmother murders her unwed stepdaughter's child so the girl will be able to marry and have a chance at happiness. One of the great Czech operas.

Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin:
A homeless, crippled man rescues a battered woman from an abusive relationship, only to lose her to a drug dealer. The first great popular opera in America.

Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten:
A loner in a small British seaside town seeks success and marriage but three of his apprentices die and the town blames him. Suicide is his way out. Britten's first great success and most melodically satisfying opera.

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Photo Credit

Porgy and Bess, 1995 © Jim Caldwell photo